Exercise is crucial for all dogs, especially high energy breeds. Not providing sufficient exercise can result in boredom resulting in behavior issues such as nuisance barking, destructive behavior or escaping. Exercise is also important to keep your dog healthy. For a guide to how much exercise your particular dog needs see here.
Feeding dog before or after exercise
A common question of many dog owners is How soon should I walk my dog before or after he eats?
As a general rule of thumb wait at least 60 minutes after walking or exercising your dog to feed them. Alternatively, if you walk or exercise your dog after they eat, wait at least 1 hour after returning, preferably 2 hours.
The reason for this is that dogs that eat too soon before or after exercise can develop bloat. Bloat is a digestive issue that causes a dog’s stomach to fill with gases blowing up like a balloon.
Alternatively, they may develop a problem known as torsion also referred to Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). This is where the top and bottom ends of the stomach twist. This can trap gases and cut off circulation.
Both of these conditions are extremely painful and are often fatal without veterinary intervention. These issues are more likely to occur with large breed dogs, particularly breeds with a deep-chested body type, but it can occur in any breed of dog. See below for a list of some of the breeds this more commonly occurs with.
Dog breeds prone to bloat
Large breed deep-chested dogs are most at risk of Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) occurring. However, this can happen to any dog. The most at-risk breeds include –
- Great Dane – one of the most at-risk breeds with their deep barrel-shaped chests. It is recommended to feed them on an elevated surface to aid with digestion.
- Boxers – another deep-chested breed that is also very active. Ensure they have a break from physical activity before feeding.
- Dobermans – Again another deep-chested and very active breed.
- German Shepherds – Same as above. I know of several German Shepherds that have died from this.
- Weimaraner – deep-chested with a thin waist.
- Setters – This includes the Gordon Setter, Irish Setter, and English Setter. With their long coats, the visible signs of bloat are not always obvious.
- Bassett Hound – Not a large breed dog, but their chest is close to the ground
- Giant Breed Dogs – the gentle giants such as Leonbergers, Saint Bernards, and Newfoundlands are also at risk of this.
- Standard Poodle – The largest of the Poodle breeds they are very active and have the body shape that makes them a higher risk breed.
Although these breeds with their particular body shape are at a higher risk of bloat, any dog can suffer from this.
How long after eating can bloat occur in dogs
Gastric Dilatation Volvulus or bloat usually occurs with one to two hours of a dog eating. This is especially likely if your dog has wolfed down their food or drunk a large volume of water.
Tips to minimize risk factors include
- Feed your dog two smaller meals rather than one big meal.
- Ensure they have access to fresh water at all times to avoid them drinking a large volume at once.
- Try not to let your dog wolf down their food. If your dog is one of those that inhale their food use a slow feed bowl to slow them down.
- Wait for an appropriate time to feed your dog before or after walking and exercise. Give them a chance to recover and relax.
Symptoms of bloat in dogs
These are some of the common signs and symptoms you may notice if your dog is suffering from bloat, torsion, and GDV. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, get your dog to the vet URGENTLY. There are no quick fix home remedies for this situation and IMMEDIATE VETERINARY TREATMENT is essential. Delays can mean the difference between the life or death of your dog.
- Retching without being able to vomit. Your dog may produce water or thick saliva but not actually vomit. This is an urgent sign of GDV.
- Hard, or bloated abdomen. This is often difficult to see especially with dogs with long heavy coats or dogs that are overweight. Even if this visual sign of bloat is not present does not rule out your dog suffering from it.
- Restlessness. If your dog is pacing and restless and unable to get comfortable they are in true distress. This is often one of the first and more obvious signs to watch out for.
- Difficulty breathing. If your dog is breathing heavy or fast it is a sure sign they are in distress.
- Rapid heartbeat. Another sign your dog is in distress.
- Excessive saliva. A strong sign that your dog has severe nausea and is not feeling right
- Standing with elbows pointed outward and neck extended. This is an indication that your dog is having difficulty breathing and they are trying to increase the capacity for their lungs to expand.
- Collapse. If your dog collapses it is an obvious sign that they are in serious trouble. This usually occurs after the condition has been going on for quite some time. At this point, the chances of your dog surviving are getting slimmer by the minute.
- Obvious pain. These conditions are extremely painful and your dog is likely to be screaming and vocalizing.
This video shows a Geman Shepherd suffering from bloat. Warning – you may find this difficult to watch. The video was taken AT the emergency vet’s office WHILE x-rays (confirming GDV) were developing.
Summary – Feeding dog before or after exercise
Feeding your dog too soon before or after going for a walk or exercising can put them at risk of bloat. Large breed deep-chested dogs are more at risk of this occurring. However, it can happen to any dog.
As a general rule of thumb wait at least 60 minutes after walking or exercising your dog to feed them. Alternatively, if you walk or exercise your dog before they eat, wait at least 1 hour after returning, preferably 2 hours.